From Sydney With Love

I finally managed to put some photos of my Sydney trip together.
This was Chinatown in some dank underground Chinese fruit and vege marketplace. It was disgusting and sticky and dirty and crowded — Haha, I loved it! However, I kept stepping in tomatoes. It was so alive with colour and noise and Asian madness.

I literally gasped when I shuttled down the hill in the bus towards Bondi Beach. The bay was very pretty. Especially with all the houses perched on the hill. The breaks looked a bit wishy washy – not big enough to surf on, and a little too rough to swim in. No wonder everyone just sat on the beach posing in their string bikinis.

Although I planned to avoid all the touristy places, by the end of my trip I didn’t quite feel like I was back in Sydney. So I took a walk through Darling Harbour and Circular Quay to gawk at the big Sydney icons… again. The place was crawling with tourists and tourist attractions. Walking around with my backpack, a map in my pocket and an Asian face, I blended in quite well.

The big photo above was me standing at the base of the Sydney Opera House looking down into the harbour and spotting these invading ufo-like jellyfish in the water.

Welcome To My Roller Coaster

These last few weeks have been rather… turbulent.

Callum has reached that stage of the “Terrible Threes”.

The senseless tantrums, the screaming, shouting and refusing, the sheer stubbornness and disobedience, and then purposely being naughty, difficult and aggressive just for attention. It’s awful!

These are the days where I feel like bashing my head into a brick wall to stop myself from exploding.

And it’s a downhill spiral. Because after three whole days of this behaviour I’m reduced to a bundle of nerves and tears. I run out of motivation. I become disheartened. Confused. Angry. I feel like I’ve been a crap parent. That somehow I’ve gotten it all wrong. That I’ve been too strict, too harsh, too controlling, too rigid. Too much scolding, too many no’s, too many time-outs.

And I swear, kids are smart. They are so sensitive to vibes, moods and feelings.

Because they milk it. They push it. And the moment I give in the tiniest amount, he walks all over me. And I feel like failed parent of the decade.

But other days I literally shake with happiness.

When, oh god, he’s a dream. The perfect little boy. Smart. Funny. Clever. Helpful. Good manners. Always polite. Dresses himself from head to toe. Does his little jobs around the house. Follows instructions quickly and carefully. Graciously accepts when he does something wrong.

He’ll also sit quietly and read while I attend to his younger brother. He’ll do random useful things like sweep the kitchen floor because he found some crumbs and doesn’t want cockroaches to eat them. He’ll tell me jokes, and laughs at them for me. He’ll pick flowers for me and arrange them in a plastic cup. He’ll say things like, “I love you so very much mummy!”.

And these are the days I’m pumped with energy and enthusiasm. Buzzing with excitement. Beaming with confidence. Planning with no limits. Ready to take on the world.

It’s funny isn’t it? Life goes up and life goes down.
A daily battle in a never-ending fairytale.

I know things will get better. The future will be bright. Life is bigger than this. And life will be good.

Chalk Drawings

I’m not sure what the standard is for almost-3 year olds, but Callum seems to be doing some awesome chalk drawings!

He can draw figures with a head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and hair! And fingers too, if you look carefully.

The one on the board is Buzz Lightyear with a space helmet.

And the black and white one is his grandmother.


For the Love of Paper

While I was in Sydney, I picked up this cute bangle from the Paddington Markets. I liked the pattern on it. But I loved it because it was made out of papier mache!

During my “art” days, I used to be a papier mache NUT! I made large sculptures from huge bits of old furniture. I wrapped them up with wire and wood, slopped on papier mache, sculpted it up, then painted and glued stuff on them. It was so much fun!

I made a small table with its legs entwined with morphed human figures. A horse head lamp shade thing (don’t ask). I even made a huge sea creature with octopus-like tentacles that perched on top of my bookshelf in my not very big bedroom.

I can’t believe my mother put up with my arty antics. I used to keep my paints in the fridge. Turps under my bed. Leave my chalks and charcoals lying on the carpet.

And during my papier mache projects… I tore up weeks and weeks of newspapers, soaked them in my mother’s bathtub until the paper began to decompose and the ink stained the sides of the tub. Then I used her hand blender to whizz it all up, added the glue powder, then transported it all, bucket by bucket, into my bedroom where I worked.

Eeek! I was such a nightmare. I hope my sons grow up to be… accountants!!

The Jellyfish Lesson

We took a walk by the river. It was a gorgeous afternoon. Everything was moving and swaying and swimming with life. Trees and birds. Bugs and flowers.

Everything except for this huge jellyfish washed up on the shore.

It was amazing. Like some bizarre intricate jelly creature from another planet. Lying splat on the ground like a translucent cow pat. Or a huge phlegm someone coughed up. (Sorry)

Now Callum is quite familiar with dead things. Dead bugs. Dead leaves. Dead mice. Simba’s dad who died in The Lion King. Nemo’s mum who died when he was still an egg. Usually he’s quite indifferent to the concept of “death”, until today.

What’s this jellyfish doing here? Why isn’t it moving? Is he dead? Like Simba’s dad? Why is he dead? Will he wake up? What if a bird comes and eats him? Why doesn’t he just swim away? Can we pick him up?

I’ve never been so stuck for words. Most of the time, I just make up stuff. Like when we’re driving through the SUBURBS and Callum will ask “Mum!! Whoa! Why are these houses here?? Did you see that? Trees! What are they doing here?!?!” I make up long tales about dinosaurs with rubber boots and gardening hats who stomp around the park planting little trees that grow into big trees.

However, we don’t make up stuff about death, or try to shield him from it. And fortunately he’s never had to face the reality of losing someone close to him.

We explain it in a very matter-of-fact way.
“The ant’s body stopped working.”
“Leaves turn brown, die and turn into compost that helps the tree make new leaves.”
“The jellyfish probably got washed up onto the beach and got stuck. Jellyfish need water to make their bodies work. So he probably got really thirsty, fell sick and died.”

And at that moment I felt my damn eyes starting to prickle. I had to hold back a tear!! I had images of a sad jellyfish wife and little, fatherless jellyfish kids. I felt SO stupid. Yet, I was emotionally locked into this moment with my son over this jellyfish. He looked so little as he squatted on the beach. Arms folded over his knees. Little sad pout.

I asked him, “Do you want to ask me anything else?”
“Hmm, yeah…”
“Ok. What would you like to ask me?”
“Um. Can I have an ice cream?”

Phew. I don’t think I’m ready for this part of parenting yet. Teaching someone else about LIFE. Death. Puberty. Sex. Women. Credit cards. Religion. And, why too much ice cream will make you sick.

So just like that, we were skipping back to the car, back to our home, back to showers, dinner, stories and bedtime. And life continues.